The trucking industry could soon face more competition in the Northeast. Norfolk Southern is negotiating with the nation’s passenger rail service to run freight trains along Amtrak’s high-speed New York to Washington corridor.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the plans are a sign that Norfolk Southern intends to move aggressively to win freight business when it divides Conrail Inc. with CSX Corp. on June 1. Use of the Amtrak corridor would let Norfolk Southern offer faster schedules and ease congestion on the Conrail routes that Norfolk Southern will use to move shipments from the South and Midwest to the New York area. Norfolk Southern is also in negotiations to use Amtrak’s route between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA.
The plan would also help Amtrak meet its federal mandate to operate without federal subsidies by the end of 2002. Amtrak also has made several other deals that will expand its freight-hauling business. An agreement with Burlington Northern Santa Fe will let Amtrak ship priority packages throughout the Southwest for United Parcel Service. Amtrak is also expanding the amount of second-class mail it hauls for the U.S. Postal Service. A joint venture with a refrigerated car company out of Michigan will have Amtrak hauling refrigerated express cars.